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Shifting Focus to Retrofitting and Aftermarkets

Now that the global market is not flourishing as it was a couple of years ago, there is a new trend noticeable. Companies are focusing more on existing turbines than on new turbines. The desire to bring down the cost of energy also fits very well in this trend. By extending the lifetime and increasing the capacity of a turbine, its overall lifetime cost of energy will go down.

Recently, OEMs have been signing more operation and maintenance (O&M) contracts to service their already installed turbines. For instance GE currently sells WindBOOST to increase a wind farm’s annual energy production up to 4%. GE claims that WindBOOST makes it possible for GE 2.5 wind turbines to increase their power curve to 2.75MW. Other OEMs are delivering similar products and services to the market.

Component suppliers are active in this market too. At EWEA 2013 several companies announced solutions for retrofitting older turbines. The technology in the industry has evolved enormously over the years and retrofitting of older turbines is an interesting option, both financially and in terms of service.

Danish company kk-electronic announced during the show that it was to team up with B&R from Austria to breathe new life into ageing turbines . The companies are collaborating to develop retrofit solutions for wind turbines. By equipping existing turbines with B&R X20 control electronics and software packages from kk-electronic, this cost-effective alternative to repowering promises to extend the productive life of the turbines, significantly reduce downtime and, quite simply, make them more profitable for longer.

Mita-Teknik is also active in this market. Recently the company brought back to life a Nordex S60 1.3MW turbine installed in Kagoshima, Japan, which had been underperforming for two years. The company upgrades the control and electrical systems in wind turbines to new improved systems that are up to date with local and market requirements. With the Japanese turbine Mita-Teknik were able to improve the performance of the turbine and bring the availability above 99% in December 2012.

The wind turbine aftermarket is relatively new but is already experiencing double-digit growth. Spares in Motion, which was established in September 2012, is an independent e-business platform for the wind turbine aftermarket. It has a website that connects supply and demand for parts, repairs and second-hand wind turbines. Sellers can place their products, and the repair capabilities that they can perform, on the site. Buyers can then locate the part or service they need and contact the seller. In order to be completely independent, Spares in Motion does not have its own stock and is also not directly involved in the transaction. On page 37 you can read more about this market and company.

Although these trends are to a large extent a result of lack of financing for new wind farms/turbines and uncertainty of continuation of policies of countries, focusing on retrofitting and aftermarket provides a good opportunity for companies to cope with the current state of the market. Although 2013 might be a tough year for the industry, I believe we are on the way back up.

Enjoy reading,

Floris Siteur
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